Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman is the the first book in Green Heart, a compilation of two short novels, "Green Angel" and "Green Witch", which tell the story of Green, a 15 year old girl who is trying to come to terms with the loss of her family. Both novels are written in a modern fairy-tale style.

In Green Angel, Green looses her mother, father, and younger sister/best friend when a fire destroys the city across the river while they are there selling vegetables.

Before her family left for the city on the day of the fire, being jealous that she was being left behind to do chores, Green ignores her family's goodbyes and essentially gives them the silent treatment. I related to this so much, not because I've given people the silent treatment, but because this made me think about all the things I wished I would have said to the people I've lost while they were still living. It's easy to get caught up in the angst of life, but one small action, such as not telling someone goodbye and that you love them when you have the chance, can bring you a world of regret later. Even though it seems so simple and meaningless at the time.

The fire that burns the city causes Green to go partially blind from ash getting in her eyes. Instead of healing herself, she instead wallows in her pain and grief, changing her name to Ash. She learns to cope with being orphaned and blind, her only companion her sister's dog, Onion. She also begins tattooing herself with vines, bats, roses, and practically anything else she can imagine.

I really enjoyed this book and how the author, Alice Hoffman, weaves in so many emotions within such a short story. Green is so complex of a character, and her pain is so raw, and yet it's not a depressing story, but uplifting. It's telling the story of the balance between the need to move on and embrace the you that you've become and yet not forgetting the you that you used to be. Because whether or not Green goes by Green or Ash, she really is the same person, and there's nothing that she can do about it, but embrace it. It also shows that no matter how dark things get, there will always be a sun on the horizon, it just takes some time to rise.

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